timetrip2

LET’S GO, 1870!

Thank you for the ticket purchase to   SANTA ROSA, CA.   in the year 1870. We just KNOW you’re going to enjoy your visit back then!

Your costume will be arriving by drone shortly (DO NOT WASH OR HAVE CLEANED). Prior to departure from the atavachron station, the purser will issue you $ 52 in replica gold coins which will have the purchasing power of approximately $1,000 today.

To make the most of your trip, it’s helpful to be as knowledgable as possible about local topics. As many events carry over from the previous year in your time window, our bots have prepared this overview of 1869-1870 by scanning a local newspaper,   The Sonoma Democrat. Selected tips and advisories from previous time travelers are also included.

TRAVEL ADVISORY   Those with asthma or other respiratory difficulties should note that air quality will be very unhealthy to hazardous throughout Sonoma and Napa counties during the Great Fire, October 15-22 1870.

GENERAL   Santa Rosa is a frontier village on the cusp of becoming part of the greater San Francisco Bay Area. In the space of two dramatic weeks between October 15-31 1870, railroad service begins, the first streetlights appear and there will be fears that a wildfire is poised to destroy the town. Aside from the 1906 earthquake and the 2017 Tubbs fire, these are the most impactful days in Santa Rosa history.

FROM CORY298: When the topic of Santa Rosa comes up in Petaluma, shake your head sadly, tsk-tsk or optionally chuckle; if Petaluma is mentioned in Santa Rosa, shake your fist and cuss.

The population of Santa Rosa is about 1,800 with the overall Santa Rosa Township approx. 3,000. Petaluma, the other major community in the area, has around 4,500 residents. A significant rivalry between the towns began a dozen years earlier and in 1870 there will be a renewed call to split the county in half, with Petaluma intended to be the county seat for the southern section. You will be expected to express your feelings about this rivalry generally.

Santa Rosa is roughly 30 square blocks with an open plaza in the center (see 1866 map below). Salmon run in the adjacent Santa Rosa Creek, but the waterway is not navigable in 1869 due to obstructions from two buildings that collapsed into the creek bed. Small corn and wheat fields surround the village on the other three sides. Santa Rosa has no library, no bank (until November, 1870), no water, sewer, or gas utility services.

All streets are unpaved and plank sidewalks in front of businesses or homes are at the prerogative of property owners. Until late 1870 there are no streetlights so a lantern or the company of a local resident is recommended when walking at night. In November the downtown area after dark is transformed by the addition of lamp post lights fueled by “gasolyne” (essentially large gasoline-fed bunsen burners). As a result, the Santa Rosa newspaper states, “Main street at night looks quite brilliant.”

TRAVEL   San Francisco can be reached via steamboats/ferries departing from Petaluma/Vallejo. Stage coaches to those towns may not connect reliably with ship departure schedules, so an overnight layover may be required.

All roads are unpaved and during rainy periods the Petaluma and Sebastopol road is sometimes nearly impassible. 1869: “…[there are] two or three swimming holes, almost deep enough to drown horse and rider.” 1870: “…[there are] lakes deep enough to admit of gondolizing upon their muddy surface.” When a stage becomes stuck in mud, all passengers are expected to assist in pushing it out.

THE RAILROAD   The train will not actually arrive in Santa Rosa until mid-March, 1871, but daily service begins Oct. 22 1870 as stages shuttle passengers back and forth from the downtown hotels to the terminal point of the approaching track (MORE details). The objective is to connect Santa Rosa to Petaluma immediately (preferably direct to its steamboat pier) with rail extensions further north to come in following years. Work is intermittent in 1869 due to the developer having financing and supply difficulties; by the end of the year there is only 1½ miles of track laid north of Petaluma.

Since the rail line will eventually connect to the ferry in Sausalito, there is a widespread conspiracy theory that Petaluma is somehow responsible for the slow progress. Supposedly interests there wish to block or delay construction because a direct train connection to the Bay will lead to a dropoff in steamboat passenger and freight traffic.

FROM RAILROADGUY-SF: The excursion departs San Francisco at 8:30AM and there will be no food, drinks or bathroom breaks until the party returns to the steamer at 5PM, so be prepared.

A new developer takes over the project in August 1870 and work resumes swiftly. The first San Francisco excursion train to Santa Rosa is announced for December 31 and over 1,200 people will take the trip, riding open freight cars fitted with seats. Unfortunately the tracks terminate a mile south of Santa Rosa and the train will start its return to Petaluma an hour after it arrives at the end of the line. There will be only a few buggies and wagons waiting to transport visitors into Santa Rosa, so those wanting to visit the village will have to dash for it. As this is the most popular event in this venue, arrive early and please refrain from gambling on the running excursionists with other time travelers.

POLITICS   Avoid generally, but understand most in Santa Rosa still view everything through the prism of the Civil War. Sonoma county was one of the few places in the state which never voted for Lincoln, and Santa Rosa remains a hotbed for Confederacy sympathies in 1870. In Santa Rosa it is not the “Civil War” but the “War for Southern Independence.” The Democrat newspaper will regularly denounce the government as a fanatical mob of revolutionaries who have divided the nation and trampled on the Constitution.

Travelers not on the women’s suffrage tour will be interested to know this venue includes a Jan. 21, 1870 lecture by nationally famous activist Laura de Force Gordon in Petaluma. Women’s suffrage is the main political topic in this time window, as Wyoming gives women the vote in December, 1869 and the 15th amendment is ratified as part of the Constitution in March, 1870, which grants citizens the right to vote regardless of race, but does not include women.

Other names which will be heard mentioned on the subject include Anna E. Dickinson, arguing forcefully for women’s rights and considered one of the most eloquent speakers in the nation and Emma Webb, an actress who opposes suffrage (and also gave speeches in support of slavery during the Civil War). During 1869 there will be evening Lyceum debates over suffrage at the Santa Rosa courthouse in April (decision in favor suffrage) and May (decision against). There are no women participating in either debate.

Trigger alert: Those wishing to avoid exposure to extreme misogyny should avoid reading coverage of these events in the Sonoma Democrat.

THE GREAT FIRE   The “Great Fire” of 1870 matches the pattern of the 20th century Hanly Fire and 21st century Tubbs Fire. It begins in the Calistoga/St. Helena area and burns through Knights Valley and the Mark West Creek watershed towards Santa Rosa, driven by high winds. On the night of October 16 the fire is three miles from the village and a collection is taken to pay three men to stay up all night and sound the alarm if needed. No lives are lost, but farms are destroyed with some livestock killed (MORE details).

LODGING   Santa Rosa has an acute housing shortage in 1870, in part because of anticipated rapid growth once the railroad arrives. Finding a room in a boarding house or private home should be a high priority as the hotels are expensive (if rooms are even available), charging about $1 per day and 40¢ per meal. From the March 12 1870 newspaper: “There is scarcely a day passes but that some person calls at this office and wants to know ‘if there are any houses to rent in Santa Rosa?’ Although there have been several new buildings erected within the past year yet we do not know of a house to rent in our town at the present time.”

FUN & GAMES   There is great excitement on April 27, 1869, when the first velocipede arrives. Purchased by a group of young men for about $60 in San Francisco, a crowd will gather in the plaza to watch them attempt to ride it, and fail. By the end of the week they are accomplished “velocipedestrians” practicing on the Sonoma road. In June some will open a velocipede school which closes after two days because everyone who wants to learn already has. By July the paper reports “the velocipede fever, which prevailed here a few weeks ago, has now entirely died out. Even the boys have come to the conclusion that there is too much work in managing the machine, and have given it up in disgust.”

October 1869 will see the formation of Santa Rosa’s first Base Ball club, which will begin playing as soon as instruction books on the rules arrive from San Francisco. On December 4 they challenge any nine who show up at their field as long as they are residents of Santa Rosa.

DRINKING   Santa Rosa is already on its way to becoming a saloon town in 1870, with six bars in the village. There are breweries in Healdsburg and Petaluma but none in Santa Rosa. Isaac De Turk’s winery in Bennett Valley produces 6,000 gallons of wine, most or all of which is shipped to San Francisco.


POKER NO, FARO YES

Card players should expect to play faro, which is by far the most popular game throughout the West until the early 20th century. It uses a regular deck of cards but suits don’t matter; just bet on any of the 13 ranks – a king, 4, etc. The “bank” deals two cards pushed up from a spring-loaded shoe as in blackjack. The first card turned over is the loser, and the second is the winner. It’s the simplest card game possible but every dealer has additional rules on betting.
Faro is popular because it is fast moving and a social game like roulette, where there are often onlookers placing bets during the course of the game. Betting on the order of appearance for the final three cards remaining in the deck has the highest stakes.
Faro game in Bisbee, AZ, 1900
This card game is also famous for cheating. From an often reprinted 1882 booklet titled “Faro Exposed”: “…all regular faro players are reduced to poverty…almost every faro player has some peculiar system which he strives to believe will beat the bank, but in the end all systems fail.” For more on faro, see the comprehensive “Faro: A 19th-century gambling craze.” Other popular card games include monte-bank, chuck-for-luck, seven-and-a-half, keno and rondo.

Public drunkenness is scorned but not against the law in Santa Rosa. In late 1870 the City Marshal will construct a Calaboose behind the jail to hold intoxicated men until they become sober. Previously the Marshal had crated drunks. (Crating is a traditional prank children in this era play on drinkers whom they find unconscious, placing a Queensware crate over them and weighing it down so the victim cannot easily escape.)

There is no temperance group in Santa Rosa akin to the Dashaway Associations of the early 1860s and the Blue Ribbon Clubs of the late 1870s. This will be a disappointment to experienced travelers who know those popular non-religious meetings are great opportunities to mingle with locals, find lodging and even employment, if desired.

GAMBLING   Wagering at card games is a preoccupation for many men, but caution is strongly urged. Violence can erupt over trivial gambling disputes, and in 1870 a man named Charles Coburn is stabbed repeatedly at a card game in Sebastopol. Also that year a man known only as Clark is stabbed in the neck at Santa Rosa’s Rialto saloon over cards. Travelers will not desire to experience emergency medical care in this time window.

Often any opportunity to place a bet is welcomed. In Sept. 1870 an imitator of Edward Payson Weston calling himself Prof. Western wins $5 here for his prowess at long distance walking. Young men are racing their horses on the road to Petaluma “for anything from a jack knife to a two bit piece.”

Depending upon the time of your arrival, there are any of six horse tracks in the vicinity: The Petaluma Race Course, the Santa Rosa race track, the Sotoyome Race Course near Healdsburg, Watson’s race track near Bodega, Gannon’s track at Sebastopol and the James Clark race track south of Santa Rosa. Having so many racing venues in the area is a point of local pride. A racing program consumes most of a day, including amateur scrub races and sometimes foot races.

FROM TAILROTEEL: Bet on the raccoon.

Be advised many travelers find an event on Jan. 11 1869 at the Santa Rosa plaza upsetting, as a large crowd of men and boys form a ring to watch a raccoon fight “all the dogs in town.”

CHILDHOOD ACTIVITIES   For travelers not part of the “Tom Sawyer” tour, expect to see lots of youths in 1870 Santa Rosa. There are 581 school age children (exactly one-third of Santa Rosa’s population) and the newspaper complains frequently about the lack of parental supervision.

Besides gambling on scrub horse races on the Petaluma road, boys eight years old and younger are often seen riding at full gallop. Mobs of small boys roam the streets late at night, sometimes making a racket with homemade musical instruments. The 1869 velocipede fad is followed by 1870 stilt walking, with children wobbling around the main streets on stilts up to five feet high.

Map of 1866 Santa Rosa

 

 

Great Sport.—On Monday last there was quite a large crowd of men and boys congregated in our plaza for the purpose of witnessing an encounter between a coon and all the dogs in town. A ring was soon formed, and the friends of the combatants took their positions. The betting seemed to be in favor of the coon, although there was no limit to the size and number of his antagonists. Among the canines present, “Ephraim,” the cat-exterminator, was the favorite, and a number of his friends thought Eph. would get a notion into his head that the coon was nothing more nor leas than one of his particular admirers belonging to the “Thomas Cat Serenaders,” in disguise. If this should happen, the coon would get a “head put on him sure.” Everything being ready, the coon was pitched into the ring, and a shout of joy went up announcing that the sport had commenced. His first opponent was a canine of ordinary pedigree, and as soon as he came in sight the coon got his back up,” and assumed a hostile attitude, ala Joe Coburn. This round did not amount to much. The second dog was brought forward, and he eyed the coon closely. All at once the coon fastened on him, and in a short time he beat a retreat. Great shouts of victory were now heard arising from the coon’s corner. Some half dozen dogs were then put on him at once. But this resulted the same as the former ’bouts, and those backing the coon could not help but cheer over this last grand victory. Things bad gone one way long enough, and loud cries were heard for Ephraim. Eph. was led towards the ring by a little urchin, exclaiming as he approached, “Here’s Eph., now let that darned critter get him back up!” In a minute Eph. had Mr. Coon down, but he could not hold him long, owing to the interference of other canines, resulting in a general fight and race around the Plaza. The crowd then dispersed much pleased with the sport. – January 16 1869

Why are They not Removed?— For some months past there have been a couple of old buildings lying in the bed of the Creek, almost at the very entrance of the town, and it is a question to many why the Trustees do not have them removed. Almost the first thing that meets the eye of the stranger as he enters the town, are these miserable old dilapidated wrecks, which certainly does not tend to make one form a very favorable opinion of the town. We hope the city trustees will take this matter in hand, and attend to it without further delay. – March 13 1869

Velocipede.— As the velocipede mania is extending all over the Slate, it has at last reached Santa Rosa. Mr. Henry Allen, a mechanic, of this place, has commenced the construction of one of these new “hosses.” It is a three wheeled one, and runs either way. Some time next week, it will make its appearance on the Sonoma road. – April 24 1869

Bad Roads. — Every winter loud complaints are heard about the dreadful condition of the public roads in this county, and the season just closed has proven no exception. At this time it is not only difficult, but dangerous, to travel between Santa Rosa and Petaluma or Sebastopol. On the first several adobe quagmires are encountered, which threaten to mire the horses and pull the buggy or wagon to pieces. On the latter are two or three swimming holes, almost deep enough to drown horse and rider. We are aware that considerable work was done last summer on both the roads mentioned, but not sufficient to keep them in proper condition for travel. This is a matter of great importance to the county. Many a man, intending to settle among us, has turned back and gone elsewhere, discouraged and disgusted with the terrible roads. It would be better to expend three times as much annually on the roads than to have them in their present condition. – March 27 1869

The wonderful velocipede “hoss” arrived in town on Tuesday last, direct from the city. No sooner had it been taken off the stage than a large crowd of aspirants for velocipede honors, surrounded the wonderful animal and earnestly gazed at its strange appearance. To all those who made a thorough examination it appeared to be perfectly gentle and decile, exhibiting no kicking or “bucking” propensities. It was led into the Plaza, followed by a large crowd, when a person possessing quite a reputation as a rider was induced to try it and see what it could do. No sooner had be mounted than be got “bucked” off. He tried it again, and met with the same fate. Other owners in the “critter” tried it and they too met with similar results. Since its arrival it has became quite gentle, as there are now a number who can ride it without the use of spurs. Every afternoon, on the Sonoma road, this strangely constructed beast goes through a course of exercises, and creates great amusement for those who witness its “fantastic tricks.” – May 1 1869

The velocipede fever has abated at this burg. The new machine from the city, purchased at a cost of fifty or sixty dollars, is now used up and laid aside, while the one built here only serves for the amusement of boys. Our folks evidently think velocipeding too much like work to be good fun. – May 29 1869

Woman Suffrage. — It will he remembered that the question of female suffrage before the Santa Rosa Lyceum, several weeks since, drew on a denserly [sic] crowded house and elicited an able and interesting discussion. The champions of the “strong minded” succeeded on that occasion, obtaining a decision in their favor. But the supporters of the negative have never been satisfied, and so last Saturday night they threw down the glove for another contest on the same subject. The other side, confident of victory, promptly accepted the challenge, and this (Saturday) evening has been fixed upon to “fight their battles o’er again.” The question reads: “Resolved, That women are entitled to the right of suffrage.” Affirmative— Barclay Henley and John Ferral; Neg. Major Brown and Wm. McCullough. A rattling discussion is anticipated, and we advise ail who can to be present. – May 29 1869

Miss Emma Webb, a beautiful and talented young actress, intends to take a the stump against female suffrage. With such a Webb we should be able to catch all the young fellows who have gone off after Annie Dickinson, and other strong-minded females. – June 5 1869

Getting it Down to a Science. — There are quite a number of boys around this place, who on velocipede riding are becoming immense. They prefer the two wheeled one, on account of it being the most difficult to manage, and are trying to see how many different ways they can ride it. So far the youngsters have got along admirably, and perform some expert movements, but one of these young velocipedestrians, Master Pope, proposes to cap the climax by standing on his head on the saddle and working the cranks with his hands. Pope is determined to beat young Seigrist, of San Francisco, or “any other man.” – June 12 1869

Velocipede School. During the past week a velocipede school has been organized at this place, under the control of Millett & Co. These gentlemen have fitted up a room, near the now Presbyterian Church, and have some ten or twelve new velocipedes, of all sizes, constantly on hand for the use of those who desire to learn. The velocipede is excellent for exercise, and we advise all who want to harden their muscles and promote digestion to give Millett & Co. a trial. – June 19 1869

The Velocipede school, started at this place, last week, closed up business in a day or two, as the boys around here were experts in Velocipede riding. – June 26 1869

The velocipede fever, which prevailed here a few weeks ago, has now entirely died out. Even the boys have come to the conclusion that there is too much work in managing the machine, and have given it up in disgust. – July 24 1869

We observe that Master John Dougherty, the “Little Giant” of Sebastopol, has at last got into the papers, and is hailed as a rival of Gen. Tom Thumb for lilliputian honors. Master Johnny is now fifteen years old, and yet weighs only thirty pounds, and is but four inches shorter than the General. The Herald was the first to bring our little friend before the public, a reporter having noticed him while on a recent visit to the city. – September 25 1869

Base Ball Club. — A number of the young men of this place met a few nights ago in the Board of Supervisors room and organized a base-ball club, styling themselves “The Young Wide-Awakes.” They have sent to the city for books of instruction, and intend in a short time to take the wind out of the sails of the Red Stockings. – October 23 1869

Be Careful. — There are a number of young boys around here, scarcely any of them over eight years of age, all of whom have horses, and make it a practice of riding at full speed up and down the roads. We fear if these daring juveniles don’t slack their speed we will be compelled to chronicle an accident before long. – November 13 1869

Challenge. — The first nine of the Lightfoot Base Ball Club desire us to state that they will play against the field, or, in other words, any nine outsiders, residents of Santa Rosa, who will meet them on their grounds this afternoon, Saturday, at 3 o’clock. – December 4 1869

On the Rampage. —Laura de Force Gordon, of Oakland, is going to stump the State in favor of Female Suffrage. She has challenged Miss Emma Webb to meet her and discuss the merits of the question. Miss Emma, were she to agree to meet Miss Gordon, would always have the best of it, for she claims that every lady can be a woman and every woman a lady, while Miss Gordon wants to make every woman a man and every lady a pot-house politician. – January 8 1870

Woman’s Rights. — We understand that Mrs. Laura de Force Gordon intends lecturing at the Court House this (Saturday) evening on the subject of Woman’s Rights, but as we have not been officially notified of it we can not say positively that such is the case. If the report is true, we can only say “let her rip” — howling female dervishes are at a discount, and petticoat nuisances will sooner or later be abated. Such women can do more good by staying at home and raising a family than by going around over the country showing their boots, breeches, stockings, shirt buttons, etc., to curiosity-seeking crowds. – January 22 1870

Dear Editors — A large, intelligent and appreciative audience, last evening, listened to a most eloquent and cogent appeal on behalf of woman suffrage, by Mrs. Laura De Force Gordon. She showed most clearly the manifest injustice of a republican government in denying to one-half its citizens (?) no ! not citizens, but one half the people, the right to a voice in its laws. Women are taxed equally with men. They are alike amenable to law, yet are classed with criminals, idiots and pauper’s. Her argument on this head was unanswerable.

She also showed in strong terms that women do want the ballot and that they will have it.

Her last argument was clear and forcible as to their need of the ballot in regard to the care of themselves and their children in earning, owning and disposing of property.

Mrs. Gordon is an exceedingly pleasing and interesting speaker and commands the entire attention of her audience. She was compelled, by press of engagements in San Francisco and vicinity, to postpone her lectures in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg until after the Woman Suffrage Convention which meets in San Francisco on Wednesdav next. We hope that Sonoma county will be largely represented and an interest awakened in this important subject.

Mrs. Gordon will lecture again here, in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg, as soon after the Convention as arrangements can be made. We send from this town a petition of four hundred names, of some of our best men and women to Congress and our State Legislature for the enfranchisement of woman. If the Democrats in our Legislature are as rational and consistent as those in Wyoming we shall soon enjoy all the rights of citizenship m a free republic. Justitia. Petaluma, Jan. 22d, 1870. – January 29 1870

None to Rent.— There is scarcely a day passes but that some person calls at this office and wants to know “if there are any houses to rent in Santa Rosa?” Although there have been several new buildings erected within the past year yet we do not know of a house to rent in our town at the present time. – March 12 1870

Pretty Good.— Three of our citizens, who are experts at trout fishing, went up to Mark West Creek one day during last week, and returned home in the evening with three hundred of these fine fish. This is what we call pretty good work for one day. All of the streams in this vicinity are visited daily by parties who are fond of fishing. – April 16 1870

Horrible Noise.— Some few evenings since the youngsters of our town who keep late hours, favored the citizens with a serenade which was not appreciated by anybody. They had with them a number of instruments of a peculiar kind, and the way the serenaders bandied them was a caution. We are fond of music, but hope that the youngsters will not annoy our citizens with any more of just such musical treats in the future. – April 16 1870

Female Suffrage.— Mrs. Carrie T. Young lectured at the Court-house on Wednesday evening last, in favor of Woman Suffrage, We regret that her talents are not employed in promoting some worthier cause. – April 23 1870

Horse Racing.—A number of scrub horse races came off here during the week, on the Petaluma road, just below Santa Rosa bridge. The boys of our town had the management of them and they would run for anything from a jack knife to a two bit piece. – May 21 1870

Stabbing Affray. —On Tuesday evening last a stabbing affair occurred at the “Rialto” saloon, in this place, in which a man by the name of Clark was stabbed in the neck by a man named Willis Cockerill. From parties who were present and witnessed the difficulty we obtained the follow)ng information about it. The parties were engaged in playing cards together when a dispute arose about a trifling sum of money. One word brought on another until at last it came to blows. They were separated by outside parties, but soon clinched again, when Clark drew his pocket knife out. Cockerill then drew his knife and cut at Clark, the blade entering the neck below the left ear. The wounded man fell to the floor, and bled profusely. Dr. Allen was immediately called in to his assistance, and proceeded to dress the wound. Cockerill was arrested by Marshal Park, and had his examination before Justice Brown on Wednesday morning. He was found guilty of simple assault. The injured man is out on the streets again, and expresses a great astonishment at the arrest of Cockerill for the commission of such a trifling offense. – June 18 1870

Cool Customer. — Clark, the man who was stabbed here on Tuesday night last, has learned to take such things cooly. While lying on the floor, covered with blood, he calmly asked for a “chaw of terbacker,” and next day invited the party who did the cutting to take a drink with him. – June 18 1870

The Social Evil.— St. Louis, following in the wake of Paris, Berlin, and other European cities, has concluded to deal with the “social evil” in a practical manner, by licensing houses and providing medical examiners, etc. Santa Rosa hasn’t any of that kind of evil, so we don’t feel particularly interested in the license question. – July 30 1870

Great Walker. —A huge bilk, calling himself Prof. Western, the “greatest walker in the country,” gave an exhibition of his agility in that line in this town on last Wednesday night. He never stopped walking to settle his bills, and victimized us to the amount of five dollars. Look out for him, for he will walk off with a red-hot stove if he gets a chance. – September 3 1870

Our Calaboose Our town authorities not having authorized the building of a “lockup,” the City Marshal is often at a loss to know what to do with troublesome reprobates. He cannot arrest one who is beastly drunk and keep him until he sobers off. because no place has been prepared in which to stow him away. But on Thursday morning last, as there was a man who could not take care of himself, and, besides was making himself a common nuisance, the Marshal took a queensware crate, and turned it into a temporary calaboose, and in it confined the inebriated individual. It served very well for the purpose. – September 17 1870

Calaboose. — Workmen are now engaged in putting up the calaboose in the rear of the jail. Although this is an institution that is but little needed here, it is well to have one on hand for the accommodation of all persons who would disturb the peace and quietude of our town. – October 1 1870

Keep Them at Home. — There is a number of small boys in our town ranging from eight to ten years of age, who are out on the streets almost nightly to a very late hour. We would suggest to parents that there is no place where children are as safe from temptation at such hours as home. A little precaution in this matter may save much trouble in the future. – October 15 1870

New Gas Lamps. – Within the past week a species of gas called the gasolyne has been introduced into our town, and so far has proved satisfactory to those who have used it. No chimney or wick is required, and each lamp has a patent burner which generates the gas. There is no danger whatever of explosion as the gas is consumed as fast as it is made. The town trustees have had four gas lamps put up in the Plaza, which are a great convenience to all persons who have occasion to be out at nights. The Kessing Hotel is lighted up nightly with this gas which is a great improvement on coal oil. Both livery stables have adopted it, and as it is much cheaper and safer than coal oil, its use will soon become general. Frank Coe has purchased the extensive right to sell these lamps in this county and Napa, and will attend promptly to all orders left at the Hotel. – October 29 1870

More Buildings. — Since the completion of the railroad to this point, there is scarcely a day passes but what strangers are looking for vacant houses. Many of them are energetic men, and have not the means at command to buy homes for themselves and families. They desire to rent and locate among us, and by their labor and industry assist in building up the interests of our county. Those of our citizens who have a surplus of capital on hand, should take cognizance of this matter, and not allow worthy men who come here with the intention of making Sonoma county their home for the future, to go away and locate somewhere else. Here is a chance, gentlemen, to show your liberality and enterprise. – October 29 1870

Calaboose. — This institution in the jail yard is now completed, and ready to accommodate all disturbers of the peace of our town. At present there is little if any necessity for it, but as the town is growing so rapidly in population, it is well to have one on hand. Two or three persons here already been confined in it, for having turned the sidewalks into lodging apartments. Our Marshal is ever on the look out, and all can rest assured he will make no distinctions among law breakers. There was a party of noisy individuals out late on last Sunday night, and if they make a few more such trips to town, they need not be surprised if the Marshal gives them free lodgings for the remainder of the night. – October 29 1870

The New Gas.— Last week we mentioned the fact that gasolyne had been introduced into our town. It has worked to such perfection that almost every house in town, especially the business portion of the community, has adopted its use. A number of new gas lamps have been put up, and our Main street at night looks quite brilliant. The great charm about this gas is that it is much cheaper than kerosene oil, and will not explode under any circumstances. Coe, the popular hotel keeper, is kept busy filling orders both here and in other portions of the county. Frank has secured the agency for Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties. – November 5 1870

Rapidly Changing. — Our town is rapidly changing from its former rural appearance, and beginning to assume the life and activity of a young city. The streets are usually crowded to a much greater extent than formerly, and the mode of travel by pedestrians is assuming the Montgomery street style. We understand that two omnibusses will soon put in an appearance at the depot, When we will hear the cry of “Free bus to Colgan’s Hotel,” “Right this way for Kessing’s Hotel,” “Take your baggage free of charge,” etc. No less than eight stages are running here daily. Who says the railroad has not thrown new life into our town? – November 5 1870

New Buildings. — In strolling over town a day or two ago on a “localizing” tour, we observed a number of new frame buildings being erected. Even on the outskirts of town the evidences of industry were apparent on all aides. Several gentlemen owning land just outside of the city limits have erected large and handsome residences thereon, and otherwise greatly improved their premises. No one will deny, now, that in a year or two Santa Rosa will be one of the handsomest interior towns in the State, and as far as educational facilities are concerned, she stands second to none other. – November 26 1870

Crowded. — Both of the hotels at this place, although large and commodious structures, are now crowded to their utmost capacity. The travel through our county has increased to such an extent within the past month, that our land lords are kept busy day and night providing accommodations for their numerous guests There is some talk on the streets about the erection of a large brick building to be used as a hotel. None can doubt but what it would pay, and before long some enterprising persons will take the matter in band and commence work in earnest. – November 26 1870

The Plaza. — Now that our town is attracting considerable attention throughout the State, and numbers of persons are visiting it from a distance, for the purpose of taking observations, and perhaps making it their home, would it not be well for us to endeavor to make the town present as creditable an appearance as possible? It looks well, now, but yet there are many things that can be done which will add greatly to its beauty, one of which is to take hold in earnest and improve the plaza — lay out gravel walks through it, plant some nice shrubbery, and give the fence a new coat of paint. We are under the impression that this would add greatly to the appearance of the town, while the cost of the work would be but trifling. As the case stands now, the visitor, in passing through, finds but little worthy of admiration in it. If we are. to have a plaza, let us keep it in good condition, or abolish it entirely. The matter is in the hands of the citizens, and it rests with them to say whether the work shall be done or not, – November 26 1870

Real Estate. — Considerable business is now being done in real estate in and around Santa Rosa. Parties are in town almost every day, making inquiries in regard to the price of land, location, soil, etc. During the past week quite a number of small tracts have changed hands. Negotiations were under way for the disposal of the two hundred acre tract which faces the property of Mr. John Ingram, but the sale was not made on account of some misunderstanding, Buyers complain of its high price asked for land, which, in some cases, we believe they are correct. Use a little more liberality, gentlemen, and sales will be mere numerous. – November 26 1870

Horrible Condition. — The streets of our town are now in a most horrible condition, and in many places are almost impassable. On the low grounds the water has lodged in such quantity as to form lakes deep enough to admit of gondolizing upon their muddy surface. In fact there is scarcely a good crossing to be found anywhere? Can not our town officers take some steps to drain or in some other manner improve their condition. Should they continue much longer as they are now, it will be found necessary for every man to provide himself with a mud scow to get around to attend to business. Besides this it is now impossible for the ladies to go out “shopping,” a little amusement which is generally very popular with them, but seldom meets with the hearty approbation of their liege lords. If something is not done in their behalf soon, our town officers may expect to hear “Rome howl” ere long. – December 10 1870

Base Ball. — The young men of Santa Rosa have organized a base ball club, which promises to be an active and efficient institution. They may never rival the Red Stockings, but the exercise will do them good and afford much amusement. – December 10 1870

Fell Down. — A young urchin, who was perched on a pair of stilts some three feet high, which were tied to his feet, fell down on Third street, on Monday last, and severely sprained one of his ankles, there is quite a number of little boys in town who can be seen daily perched on high stilts and some of them, we fear, will meet with a severe accident yet. Older heads have suffered by too hasty endeavors to get up in the world, and our ambitious juveniles will learn that stilts from three to five feet long are a little too much too high. – December 31 1870

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WHEN WOMEN’S RIGHTS ENDED AT THE HEMLINE

In 1911, California women won suffrage. Had anything changed in Sonoma County after a couple of years had passed? Yes, but not much for the better.

The main opponent to suffrage was the liquor industry, fearing that women voters would demand lawmakers crackdown on saloons, if not outright banning alcohol altogether. That didn’t happen, although a portion of West County did vote for prohibition in 1912, (more of an issue about farm workers and real estate values) and a few scattered communities around the state did go “dry.” The temperance movement, however, acted as if the larger push for women’s rights gave them a mandate to impose a rigid faith-based moral code that might have made the Taliban proud.

Petitions circulated around the state seeking compulsory “Sunday observance” laws at the local and/or state level. Several groups formed to gather signatures and demands varied, depending how heavily the group leaned pro-labor or pro-Christian; some wanted only a guaranteed day off but others sought to ban any form of work, sports, recreation or entertainment – presumably an exception would be made for the police so they could lock everyone up. A “day of rest” bill was considered by the state legislature in 1913 but died after an amendment added saloons to the list of businesses exempt from Sunday closing.

Nationally the largest temperance group was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, and according to them our handbasket to hell was speeding there at a breakneck pace. Per a 1913 wire service story, Dr. W. A. Ruble, president of the Loma Linda “College of Medical Evangelists” told WCTU audiences that booze and immorality was driving us all nuts. “Doctor Ruble declared that if insanity continues to increase at the rate it has in the last few years, the next 100 years will see a majority absolutely insane. They will be able to run the country.” By god, consider your prophecy fulfilled, doctor.

Here in Santa Rosa, the county WCTU’s 1913 convention heard an address by Dr. Sara Wise, a physician who was the group’s “purity lecturer” in California. Her usual topics were  “social immorality” and “race betterment” (eugenics, in other words) along with the need for proper sex education because “spooning is dangerous.” The Press Democrat published the complete text of her lecture, “Dress in Relation to Vice” which is excerpted below.

According to Dr. Wise, low necklines and tight skirts fortold the End of Civilization As We Know It and everyone agreed on that. “Any one who denies that such costumes are immodest and degrading is either untruthful or inconceivably ignorant or insane, and in any case should be put under restraint.”

Wise was in highest dudgeon over “the filmy X-ray skirt, made of several yards of nothingness” (the outline of a woman’s legs could be seen when a bright light was behind) and the slit skirt, which exposed a bit of ankle or even calf. Men must be protected from temptation, according to her: “We dare not tolerate that ‘which causeth our brother to offend'” she huffed. “We must not sanction that which has so evidently the ‘appearance of evil.'”

The cartoon to the right is one of several that appeared nationally poking fun at such prurient obsession in making sure women’s legs remained thoroughly covered, but there were more than a few bluenoses who agreed with Dr. Wise and her ilk. Newspapers of 1913 were peppered with wire service stories about women hauled to court because of “immodesty.” A Few samples:

Indianapolis ordered police to check on women wearing slit skirts to ensure they also wore “undergarments.” A judge in Milwaukee fined a woman $10 for a skirt that was “too short, too tight and too much slit.” The mayor of Portland gave police broad powers to arrest women if a cop thought anything about their attire was improper. In Richmond a woman was charged with indecent exposure for a slit skirt that went to her knee; her defense was it was legal to buy it in a department store, but the judge replied that while someone could also legally buy a gun, it was against the law to use it for murder.

And it wasn’t just a bit of leg that upset some people in 1913; the Santa Rosa Republican ran a letter complaining that women shouldn’t show their teeth when they smile for a photograph. That letter might be a satirical comment on the immodest skirt kerfuffle, however; some of the writing resembles the work of humorist and historian Tom Gregory. It’s either hundred year-old trolling or someone’s very odd kink; you decide.

Passage of suffrage meant women could also serve as jurors. Although it was 1922 before women were seated on a Sonoma county Superior Court jury, there was an unusual all-woman jury convened in 1913.

The case involved two Petaluma women neighbors, Mary Stegeman and Lena Waldorf. Mrs. Stegeman’s five cows were loose and grazed on Mrs. Waldorf’s flowers. Waldorf herded them onto her own property and there was a confrontation when the Stegeman kids tried to collect them. Mrs. Waldorf was said to have “punched” and pushed the girls. Although they had no bruises or other signs of injury, Mrs. Waldorf was charged with battery. She was found guilty but fined only one dollar.

Coverage by the Santa Rosa Republican seems mildly insulting by noting she would be judged by a “jury of her peeresses” who were “juroresses,” but those were legitimate forms of address at the time, albeit awkward. The Press Democrat, however, assigned Dorothy Ann, their gossip columnist who never hesitated to wrinkle her snoot at women she presumed to be her lesser.

Dorothy Ann remarked Mrs. Waldorf was “a plain little woman” but reserved her ample condescension for the jurors, whom she described as “half-frightened” and simple, even childlike:

Introductions were numerous and for a space of time the scene only needed a well appointed tea table to convince one tea would soon be served. The flashes of colors radiating from the pretty summer gowns enhanced this impression and the chatter bordered on the common place. It was as every day. There was little said of the near approaching trial. A lively discussion as to the merits of doing early ironing ensued and when a street vendor passed yelling “Apricots,” the prospective jury rushed to the window to view his fruit.

As the trial wore on, the PD reported jurors were anxious because “it was long past the lunch hour and wives showed visible signs that they were worried over what husbands might get (or not get) to eat.” One juror said she was leaving and county counsel yelled at her to sit down. “And Miss Cassidy sat down, not having the slightest idea that she might have been fined for contempt of court.” Bravo, Dorothy Ann; that’s a grand slam of sexist snark.

(RIGHT: “The latest candidate for a position on the Santa Rosa police force, Maggie McGiure [sic], of Los Angeles.” Maggie McGuire was a fictional character in serialized stories about a jewel thief who committed robberies in disguise. Note the slit skirt. Cartoon from the Santa Rosa Republican, August 26, 1913)

A month later, Dorothy Ann – or maybe, the PD headline editor – threw a dismissive jab at the proposal to hire a female police officer by saying she would be a “copette.” Perhaps because this was being advocated by “prominent club women,” her article was straight-forward and sympathetic to the idea.

We finish our tour of suffrage updates with the good news that a “well known hotel keeper” in Santa Rosa was arrested after a complaint was made by Mamie Erickson, who was fired after demanding overtime for working 10-11 hour shifts as a cook. Under state law passed just before the suffrage vote, women could work only eight hours a day. The law was viewed as discriminatory because it gave employers an incentive to fire women who worked in stores and offices where a 55-hour week was common, and there were also loopholes exempting women who did the hardest manual labor. To have it turned around on an unfair employer was sweet justice.

 
DOZEN PETALUMA WOMEN TO ACT AS JURORESSES

Twelve women “good and true” will her the merits and demerits of the case of the People vs. Mrs. W. S. Waldorf of Petaluma. She is accused of having lawlessly punished the small sons of Fred Stageman of that city. The father swore to the complaint for the arrest and trial of Mrs. Waldorf, and a jury of her peeresses will decide as to the guilt of the accused. Deputy Sheriff Rasmussen has been working two days rounding up the dozen juroresses who may qualify for the trial, which will take place in Petaluma Friday. The case is attracting much attention around the Town of the Little Chicks, as its final disposition may establish a precedent regarding women juries at least in that vicinity.

– Santa Rosa Republican, July 10, 1913

 

WOMAN JURY CONVICT ONE OF THEIR SEX–FINED $1.00

By DOROTHY ANN

Guilty and recommended to the mercy of the Court!

That was the verdict rendered by the first twelve women in Sonoma county selected to do jury duty in the case of the People vs. Mrs. W. S. Waldorf, held in the justice court in Petaluma, Friday morning. Judge George T. Harlow heard the charge of battery. The defendant, Mrs. W. S. Waldorf, was represented by Attorney Fred S. Howell and the case of the People was ably pleaded by Attorney Gil P. Hall.

The Crowd Gathers

Shortly before 10 o’clock Friday morning a swish of petticoats was heard coming down the hall leading to Judge Harlow’s court in Petaluma. A moment later the doorway framed several attractive looking women who sighed with relief when they discovered they were not late for the trial. They seated themselves in the small justice court and for the space of ten minutes there was a buzz of animated conversation only broken by the interruption of the arrival of more women. Politeness prevailed on all sides. Introductions were numerous and for a space of time the scene only needed a well appointed tea table to convince one tea would soon be served. The flashes of colors radiating from the pretty summer gowns enhanced this impression and the chatter bordered on the common place. It was as every day. There was little said of the near approaching trial. A lively discussion as to the merits of doing early ironing ensued and when a street vender [sic] passed yelling “Apricots,” the prospective jury rushed to the window to view his fruit. But this not last long. The defendant and plaintiff appeared with their attorneys and the court was soon called.

The Jury Sworn

A half-frightened expression appeared on the faces of the women when they were questioned as to their ability to give a fair and impartial trial; to cast aside all personal views; to be governed by facts; and to allow no sympathy to enter into their final conclusions. Frightened surely some of them were, but fully awake to their responsibility. Only one of the first twelve jurors’ names drawn was challenged. Mrs. W. J. Hickey admitted an acquaintanceship with the plaintiff and was not accepted. When duly selected the women settled themselves to listen to the testimony. They turned intelligent faces towards the witnesses and at all times paid the strictest attention. An occasional frown or smile crossed their faces as the trial proceeded and the case developed.

 The Point at Issue

Mrs. W. S. Waldorf, a plain little woman, was accused of striking the children of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Stegeman. When sifted down to a fine point the history of the case was little else than a neighborhood scrap, in which five cows being driven to pasture were left alone on the public highway in front of the home of the defendant and were very impolitely chewing up the flower garden of said defendant over the fence. Mrs. Waldorf in trying to protect her property drove the cowns into her own yard, and refused to allow Mary and Lena Stegeman to take them when they demanded them. Mrs. Waldorf armed herself with a horsewhip, and according to the testimony of Mary Stegeman, struck her, not sufficiently to bruise, and “punched” her. The word punch was finally decided to be a punishing blow. Mary and Lena Stegeman  ran home and told their mother what had happened and Dora Stegeman, aged 13, rushed out of the house to the backdoor of Mrs. Waldorf and demanded the cows. Mrs. Waldorf refused to acknowledge the whereabouts of the cows, and Dora is accredited with being very impertinent, whereupon Mrs. Waldorf ordered her off the place. Dora refused to go and Mrs. Waldorf, coming out of the door, picked up the whip, and with it in her hand pushed the child out the gate with her left hand.

 The Defendant

Mrs. Waldorf, in appearance was a sweet-faced woman. She was plain and unassuming. The fact that the jury decoded against her in no way convinced me that her intentions were other than that of an exasperaten [sic] woman who had seen her flower and vegetable gardens eaten and trampled more than once by neighborhood cows. The fact remained though and she herself admitted it on the stand, that she did “push” the children away and it was this that convicted her. A very slight blow can institute charges for battery!

 Case Goes to the Jury

When the testimony was all in and the charges given to the jury, Deputy Sheriff R. L. Rasmussen appeared and locked them up. After an interim of ten minutes the verdict as quoted above was read. Judge Harlow fined Mrs. Waldorf the sum of $1.

 An Amusing Incident

During the last twenty minutes of the trial the jury was unquestionably getting very nervous and anxious to get away. It was long past the lunch hour and wives showed visible signs that they were worried over what husbands might get (or not get) to eat. A heated argument was being held by the attorneys and for a few minutes it looked as if the trial might be held over in afternoon session. Miss Cassidy, afterwards forewoman of the jury, arose and announced she would not stay.

“Sit down!” yelled Mr. Hall.

And Miss Cassidy sat down, not having the slightest idea that she might have been fined for contempt of court.

 The Democratic Jury

The personnel of the jury was democratic. It knew no social lines. Society women rubbed elbows with plain, little housewives; and women earnest in lodge affiliations sat by arden church workers. It made not the slightest difference what club, church, lodge, or home they came out of, they agreed that no woman was justified in striking another woman’s child.

The jury women were as follows: [..]

– Press Democrat, July 12, 1913

 

SANTA ROSA CLUBWOMEN WANT ‘COPETTE’ NAMED
(By Dorothy Ann)

There is almost a unanimous expression among prominent club women for the appointment of a woman on the police force. Men and women who take an active interest in the social and civic welfare of the up-to-date city agree that a woman on the force today is almost a necessity. The idea is not new or untried, but cities of any importance both in California and the East have found her work of manifold help with women and children. Santa Rosa women are much interested at the present time.

“What we need in Santa Rosa,” said a well known woman to me the other day, “is a policewoman. That would solve some of these unanswerable problems we hear about.”

Los Angeles appointed the first policewoman in the personage of Alice Stebbens Wells. Many will remember the quiet, little woman who lectured here months ago. At that time she explained to me how perfectly rational her duties were. She watched all police interests in which women and children were concerned. She befriended the unfortunate girl, guided the silly girl and mothered the homeless girl. She watched the dance halls and dark corners of the moving picture shows. She made arrests when necessary and pressed her cases with the same assurances as the policemen. And all so quietly, so unobstrusively [sic] that men gasped at her ability.

The right woman on the police force in Santa Rosa would be a step in the right direction. Intuitively she would guard and mother the girls whose home conditions do not conduce to moral uplift.

– Press Democrat, August 19, 1913

 

EIGHT HOUR LAW INVOKED
By Woman Required To Work Long hours

A well known hotel keeper was arrested by Constable Sam Gilliam Monday morning upon a complaint sworn to by Mamie Erickson, who charged her employer with violation of the state law prohibiting the employment the employment of women for more than eight hours in a day. It is alleged that she required Erickson woman, who was acting as a cook, to work for ten and sometimes eleven hours.

A demand for extra pay for overtime was met with a refusal, and a summary dismissal according to the employee’s story, and the result is the filing of the charge.

The law in question has never been invoked in this county before. It is very strict in its terms, holding for not more than forty-eight hours in a week, nor more than eight hours in every twenty-four for any woman employee.

– Santa Rosa Republican, September 29, 1913

 

VICE IN RELATION TO DRESS
In Paper Before the W.C.T.U. Convention Here, Dr. Wise Strongly Condemns “Slit Skirts,” “Tight Skirts,” and the “Filmy X-Ray Gown” as Being Immodest and Creators of Sensation

“Whether it be the slit skirt, or the tight skirt, of the filmy X-ray skirt, made of several yards of nothingness, the result and the desire are the same–to show the figure as much as is possible and as much of the figure as possible–without getting arrested.”
– Dr. Sara Wise

At the recent convention of the Sonoma County Woman’s Christian Temperance Union held in Santa Rosa, a paper, written by Sara Wise of San Francisco, a woman who has been prominent and active in temperance and Christian Endeavor work in the metropolis and State created much interest. Dr. Wise, in her paper on “Dress in Relation to Vice,” handled the subject without gloves. The Press Democrat has been requested to give the paper space in its columns and this morning prints Dr. Wise’s effort in full as follows:

(By Dr. Sara Wise)
Dress may be an indication of the degree of civilization of a people. It is also, to some extend, indicative of character, manners and morals.

The first mention of dress or covering for the body, was of aprons of leaves sewed together and worn, not for comfort, warmth or adornment, but because the knowledge of good and evil had come into life. Something had gone wrong. Shame had developed…

…Modesty is not only a beautiful and attractive quality in man or woman. It has its origin in sex and is a necessity for sex protection. Modesty is the shield the race has raised to safeguard its progress in ideals. When through long years of unbridled passion, of license, of lack of self-control, man has thrown down that shield, then it immediately becomes of vast importance as to what constitutes real modesty on dress and conduct. Any fashion in dress or conduct or amusement which is suggestive, or seductive, or tempting to the passions of man or woman; anything which leads to the idea of indifference to ideals for the one, or makes attainment of ideals impossible for another; anything which removes the barriers of restraint between the sexes, or encourages impure thoughts and undue familiarity should be decried; yes, should be most assiduously opposed, even to open war by all those who value safety of children and youth, or the perpetuity of the nation…

…Decent men and women are rebelling at the outrageous costumes of some of our women, not only of the society women, who ape the styles of the demimonde of Paris, but the working girl and the high school girl who ape the society women.

They are not worn for either comfort or beauty, but solely to be “in style.” They who wear them will declare quite earnestly that they are comfortable and very beautiful and artistic. They would, however, be the very ones to insist that such gowns were hideous and horribly uncomfortable if any other style prevailed.

Whether it be the slit skirt, or the tight skirt, or the filmy X-ray skirt made of “several yards of nothingness,” the result and the desire are the same–to show the figure as much as is possible and as much of the figure as possible–without getting arrested. Any one who denies that such costumes are immodest and degrading is either untruthful or inconceivably ignorant or insane, and in any case should be put under restraint.

I say unhesitatingly that the woman or girl who is immodest in her dress will be immodest and impure in her thinking and when a real temptation arises will inevitably be immodest in her conduct…

…The great crime in allowing high school girls, or other girls, to dress immodestly in any respect, is because they are in their most emotional age–the teen age–the time of physical awakening, which means the time of greatest unrest and mystery, the time for greatest care and caution. Because they are peculiarly sensitive to impression a very little thing will turn the scale in the wrong direction. That which robs the girl of her greatest sex protection, her modesty, it is criminal to destroy. It seems almost as if some of the fashionable, or would-be fashionable mothers, would rather have their daughters fashionable than pure; rather in style than safe; rather have her “stunning” and the envy of her girl friends, than the source of noble inspiration to both girl and boy friends.

Some forms of immodest dress, our civilization has permitted to become a custom. The very low neck of the ball room, is certainly not exactly modest.

The action of the Roman Catholic prelates of Canada prohibiting the wearing of low-neck evening gowns at church functions is more eloquent than a sermon. The libertine, alias the man of the world, may not care how much of the female figure is exposed–the more the better. He will flatter and encourage and say it looks “cute” and “fetching.” But it is the men who are making a strong fight for their own purity of life, who rebel at the insidious temptation…

…Let the Christian people but unite in emphatic protest against all immodesty and immorality in dress and such would soon cease to be “good form.” We dare not tolerate that “which causeth our brother to offend.” We must not sanction that which has so evidently the “appearance of evil.”

– Press Democrat, September 24, 1913

 

WE DON’T KNOW

Mr. Editor: It there is anything more silly than the present custom of taking women’s pictures with an open mouth to show their teeth. It is hard to find, and when a forced grin is added, it surely tops the climax. The natural, normal pose of the human features used to be considered the proper thing in a picture, and with sensible women, it is yet; but the rage for open mouths is on, and like the hobble skirt must have its run, the way it looks. But all of life is full of follies and ever has been, so Pope’s advice to “shoot folly as it flies” will always keep the shooter busy  if he complies.

Answer, We don’t know, have no mans of knowing, never expect to know. Why a woman, not insane, one of the sex devoted to a life effort to look well, should get herself into the grotesqueness of a set grin and preserve that facial distortion in a photograph is beyond human conception. Those deface faces frequently remind us of the phiz of a gargoyle on the eve waterspout of an ancient building. But or correspondent will have to let the fashion of appearing ridiculous run its course. Any attempt to mitigate would only accentuate.

– Santa Rosa Republican, January 17, 1913

 

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THE LADIES TURN OUT TO VOTE

After California women won the right to vote in 1911, everyone watched the first elections of 1912 to see whether the winds had changed, particularly concerning one issue: prohibition.

Passage of the amendment to the state constitution had not been easy – it won by a narrow two percent statewide and by four points in Sonoma county. Petaluma, Sonoma, Windsor and Healdsburg all voted against allowing women to vote; local support was only enthusiastic in Santa Rosa, where male voters approved by a 14 point margin. Suffragists were fought every step of the way by a coalition of social conservatives and the national liquor industry, together dubbed the “anti’s” in the press.

(This is the third and final article on the campaign for women’s suffrage in California. For background see part I, “WILL MEN LET THE LADIES VOTE?” and “THE SUMMER WHEN WOMEN WON THE VOTE.”)

Predictably, the anti’s carped about the measure passing and there were noises about a Sonoma County recount, but nothing came of it. One of the most vocal member of that faction was state Senator J. B. Sanford (D-Ukiah), also editor and publisher of the Ukiah Dispatch-Democrat, who put his unique spin on the results to make it sound as if men had foolishly decided to force women to vote against their will: “The ballot on Equal Suffrage was not a fight between the men and women, but was rather a fight between the women, and the men were called in to decide the matter…it seemed that a majority of women did not wish to assume the extra duty, but the men have said, ‘Ladies, you must vote.'” Still, he encouraged the women of Ukiah to register “…and thus offset the evil that might arise from giving the ballot to some women in the large cities.”

Sanford also couldn’t resist throwing one final misogynist bomb: “[Women] will have to go to the county clerk’s office and submit to many formalities, among which will be to give their visible marks and scars, age and previous condition of servitude, all of which will be open to inspection.”

(RIGHT: This April, 1912 advertisement ran in the Santa Rosa Republican a few days before the first local elections where women could vote, one of several display ads that month with a similar voting theme)

Some confusion arose in the weeks following passage. Technically the amendment didn’t become law until 90 days after the election, but women were already lining up to register in some places; county clerks added women registrars to help. The first woman to register in Sonoma County on Jan. 2, 1912 was Mrs. Jennie Colvin – a milestone little noticed by either Santa Rosa paper – and she wasn’t asked about any scars, or even her exact age; the legislature had changed the voter requirements after the amendment passed, and now the voter only had to swear that he or she was over the age of 21. They still required height be recorded for ID purposes, which caused a minor problem because women at the time wore elaborate hats that could be difficult to position without a mirror. So the County Clerk installed a mirror in the office.

There was also uncertainty whether or not women would have to pay the poll tax to vote, as that part of the election law named only males. It was was quickly decided that women were exempt unless voters passed another amendment to change the language, which was in a different section of the state constitution. Aside from that issue and the need for mirrors, registering new women voters went smoothly and the county soon had an all-time high of over 17 thousand voters. Republicans outnumbered Democrats more than two-to-one, a proportion that must have unnerved Ernest Finley, editor of the fiercely-partisan Press Democrat.

In an ill-conceived Sunday editorial, the PD suggested women needed a “class in politics” to educate them about the differences between Dems and Repubs so they could be sure to pick the right team. A blistering letter to the editor followed in the Santa Rosa Republican, almost certainly written by the indomitable Frances McG. Martin, titled, “MOST WOMEN ARE NOT IDIOTS”.

It starts out with a request for nonpartisan instruction, and closes with a prayer to “politicians” to tell her why she is a Democrat or Republican…The men and women who worked for the enfranchisement of California women, worked with the hope that women would not prove to be blindly and passionately partisan, and that they would not adopt the methods of the professional politicians and wire puller; but, since the just men gave us the ballot, the women who worked against the cause or were indifferent, have displayed a very lively interest in politics of the old brand. Women are not all idiots, then why should there be such a hue and cry, raised about instructing them as to what they believe and how to prepare and write a ballot?

Then came the local elections that April. Women were eager to vote; the Republican paper told the story of Santa Rosa Police chief Boyes leaving home before dawn to setup polling places, promising his wife he would later “send an automobile for her and some other ladies in the neighborhood” so they could vote. By the time he returned home for breakfast, Cora Boyes had already gone out and cast her ballot as the first voter in their city ward.

Then there was the matter of the prohibition vote. About twenty California towns had ballot items to decide if their community would go “dry.” Locally, Cloverdale held a series of spirited public meetings; at the weekend rally before the vote, Andrea Sbarboro (male), the founder of the Italian Swiss Colony in Asti, made a rare public appearance to speak against the proposal. In the end the township of Cloverdale voted for leaders who promised to clean up the saloons – particularly gambling and serving liquor to minors – but rejected outright prohibition by an almost 2:1 majority. Overall, about half of the towns voting on alcohol went dry; in the Bay Area, only Los Gatos and Mountain View closed their saloons. “FEMALE OF SPECIES AS THIRSTY AS THE MALE,” quipped the Santa Rosa Republican headline. In November, however, county voters did pass an anti-roadhouse ordinance, about which more will be written separately.

But suffrage did not equality make; it would still be a decade in Sonoma County before women were seated on a Superior Court jury, for example. And although Senator Sanford tried to frighten men in 1911 with the image of a helpless mother sequestered late at night with eleven leering men, there were five women jurors on that trial in 1922. Turns out they didn’t need Sanford’s protection at all. Never did.

WOMEN WILL NOT PAY POLL TAX
Another Amendment of the Constitution Would Be Necessary Before Tax Can Be Collected

Many opponents of woman suffrage before and after the recent election declared that the adaption of the amendment allowing women to vote would carry with it the added responsibility of paying poll tax. This, however, is not true.

The right of suffrage was given by the adoption of an amendment to Section 1 of Article 2 of the Constitution of California, and which amendment consisted of stipulating the word “male.” Women could not be allowed the right of suffrage without the addition of the amendment.

The liability for poll tax is fixed also by the constitution of the state: Section 12 of article 13 of the Constitution of the State of California reads as follows…

…So it will be readily seen that the women will not and cannot be required to pay a State poll tax without an amendment to Section 12 of article 13 of the Constitution. In the adoption of such an amendment as will require the women to pay a State poll tax the women will now have the right themselves to vote on such an amendment, and if such an amendment is adopted it necessarily must be done with their consent.

– Press Democrat,  October 20, 1911
REGISTRATION PROVISIONS
Some Changes in Registration Laws Are Noted

The recent legislature made a number of changes in the form of the registration blanks used in the registering of voters for the coming elections. The changes were made mostly for the accommodation of women, as a voter under the new law will not have to give his or her age, nor visible marks or scars. The only requirement about the age is that the voter must swear that he or she is over the age of 21 years.

There might be a little dispute over the question of whether the husband or the wife is the head of the house, but the decision is that this question must be settled in the home.

The question of naturalization is also different from the old blanks. A woman of foreign birth must state how she became a citizen–if she became one by the naturalization of her father when she was a minor, by the decree of the court, or by marriage. If by marriage, she must state when she was married, and if she registered under one name and afterwards married, she must re-register. The same rule applies to change of name by divorce.

– Santa Rosa Republican, January 1, 1912
REGISTRATION OF VOTERS HAS BEGUN

Registration of voters began at the county clerk’s office on the new year…Rev. Peter Colvin and wife, Mrs. Jennie Colvin, registered. Mrs. Colvin was the first lady to register…

– Santa Rosa Republican, January 2, 1912
M’LADY YOUR HAT CAN COME OFF
Big Mirror to be Installed in the Office of the Registrar of Voters in Court House

County Clerk Feit is to install a big mirror in the County Clerk’s office which will add materially to the comfort of the women voters who visit the office for the purpose of registering.

A number of women who have called to register have not been able to give their height and have had to take off their hats prior to standing under the measure. When it came to readjusting their hats without the aid of a mirror, the effort has not proved very successful in some instances.

Hence the providing of the big looking glass by the county clerk.

– Press Democrat,  January 28, 1912

MOST WOMEN ARE NOT IDIOTS

Editor REPUBLICAN:

Will you please explain the following clipping, taken from the Sunday morning paper?

There has been this past fortnight several expressions regarding the establishment of a non-partisan class in politics for women. If some of the deep-thinking politicians would volunteer to discuss simple political problems from purely unselfish standpoints, they would undoubtedly be listened to with interest and pleasure. Last week one new voter asked: “Will you ask some Democrat and Republican to briefly state through the press, why I am a Democrat and why I am a Republican?” Attention! politicians, tell us why.

It starts out with a request for nonpartisan instruction, and closes with a prayer to “politicians” to tell her why she is a Democrat or Republican. A non-partisan, in politics, is one who is not blindly or passionately attached to any political party, so defined by the standard dictionaries. The men and women who worked for the enfranchisement of California women, worked with the hope that women would not prove to be blindly and passionately partisan, and that they would not adopt the methods of the professional politicians and wire puller; but, since the just men gave us the ballot, the women who worked against the cause or were indifferent, have displayed a very lively interest in politics of the old brand.

Women are not all idiots, then why should there be such a hue and cry, raised about instructing them as to what they believe and how to prepare and write a ballot? The Los Angeles women certainly demonstrated the fact that they could vote more rapidly and mark their ballots more accurately than a great many men voters. Any man or woman who is fit to cast a ballot can master the mechanical part of it in ten minutes. Each voter is furnished with a sample ballot not more than ten nor less than five days before an election. Full directions are printed upon those sample ballots, and the woman voter, as well as the man, can take her time and mark her sample ballot as she intends to vote, take it with her to the voting booth and use it as a model by which to stamp her real ballot.

No woman can vote who cannot read the constitution in the English language and write her name, then why can she not read the able editorials which appear in the leading papers and magazines, and deal with the vital questions of the day. If she have children in the public schools, let her take up with them the study of civics as set forth in a state text book of that name and sold for sixty (60) cents. Any woman can afford to buy one for herself. In the History of the United States, published by the state for use in the public schools–price eighty (80) cents–she will find both the state and national constitutions, and a history of bot the Democratic and Republican parties. If she desires to study Socialism, she can secure the literature of that party at a nominal price, or she can attend the lectures delivered in all parts of the country by the best Socialist speakers.

For a number of years, women, in constantly increasing numbers, have attended public political meetings; in fact, the writer has often heard men complain that the non-voters crowded out the voters; that the tired men had to stand if they wished to hear the speeches, while the women occupied their seats. Now, why do they not know whether they are Democrats, Republicans, Socialists, nonpartisan, etc.? Women have now, as they have always had, men relatives and friends, who are willing to talk over all kinds of questions with them, but why pose as idiots without minds of their own? I sometimes wonder that men gave the ballot to women at all, as so many women disclaim all title to reason and judgement; but I conclude that the men relatives of good, level-headed, conscientious and devoted mothers, sister, wives, daughters and sweethearts, who are strangers to afternoon bridge, divorce courts, etc., felt that such women are in the majority and that they would do their duty toward their homes, state and nation.

Women of Sonoma county, it is our duty to inform ourselves by reading, conversation and observation as to the measures most important to be voted upon, the candidates most likely to carry out the best of those measures, if elected, and vote accordingly; to vote for the best measures and best candidates, irrespective of party lines, and not need to be “told” by somebody just how we must vote; after hearing all sides, let us conscientiously decide that for ourselves.

Let us vote for members of the legislature and congress who are not so anxious to make new laws, as to simplify and embody in plain English the laws now in existence, so that any citizen of common intelligence may read and understand them, and it may not require years for the courts to interpret them.

And let us no longer play at being feeble-minded–the day has passed when that pose appeals to any man whose regard is worth having.

ONE OF THE NEW VOTERS.

– Santa Rosa Republican, March 12, 1912
MANY LADIES VOTING AT MUNICIPAL ELECTION
Some Interesting Happening With the Fair Suffragists

Santa Rosa’s first election at which the ladies voted has almost passed into history and that it was all the better for the influence which the ladies exerted cannot be doubted even by those who have heretofore been opposed to the injection of the ladies into politics. Many had caused their names to be placed on the great register, giving their ages, to be permitted to cast their ballots at this election. They are the pioneers in the suffrage cause. The others, who waited until the law made it unnecessary to give their ages, failed to get the privilege of the ballot at the municipal election.

During the hours of the forenoon and afternoon the ladies went to the polls, many preferring to walk and cast their vote than to avail themselves of the time-honored custom of the men to ride in automobiles or buggies. To show that they were awake to the privileges and enthusiastic, some of them were at the polls quite early in the morning.

In at least two instances ladies were absolutely the first to vote…

…At 12 o’clock figures were obtained from each of the polls in the city, and the table given below shows the the total number of votes cast, and the number of women who had voted: [Votes cast to that time: 808 “Ladies”: 284]

Many amusing incidents were narrated on the fair sex, one being to the effect that one lady left her ballot lying on the desk after having marked it, and failed to hand it to the judge of election to be placed in the ballot box, and that another lady marked her ballot and then calmly folded it up and placed it in her pocket.

Chief of police Boyes arose at 4:30 o’clock Tuesday morning to go with City Clerk Charles D. Clawson to distribute the election ballots and paraphernalia. Mrs. Boyes asked her husband regarding her going to the polls and he informed her that during the afternoon he would send an automobile for her and some other ladies in the neighborhood. After the chief had gone, Mrs. Boyes arose and dressed herself, wended her way to the polls and when Chief Boyes had returned to his breakfast, the good wife calmly informed him that she had cast her ballot.

[..]

– Santa Rosa Republican, April 2, 1912

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